“The Aging Tree”

Ecclesiastes 12:1-5

12 Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come, and the years draw near when you will say,

‘I have no pleasure in them’; 

before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return with the rain;

 on the day when the guards of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the women who grind cease working because they are few, and those who look through the windows see dimly;

 when the doors on the street are shut, and the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low; 

when one is afraid of heights, and terrors are in the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along and desire fails; because all must go to their eternal home,

Solomon paints a tender picture of old age using multiple images.  He admonishes us to enjoy the Lord while we can for our eyes dim, our hands shake, we loose teeth, hearing fails us, we fear falling, our hair turns white, sexual desire declines and we go to our eternal home.  “The almond tree blossoms” I would understand to be our hair turning white.  But why might Solomon have chosen the almond tree?  Of course I looked to the Internet.

         The Hebrew word for almond also means watchful.  In Numbers 17:8 Aaron’s staff spouts, blossoms, and bears fruit affirming Moses’ leadership when the people grumbled.  The almond tree is the basis for the creation of the Menorah, seven pronged candle stick.  As an elder now, I like the Ecclesiaste’s use of the almond tree blossoming to speak of aging and probably the coming of white hair.

      The context of the passage is an admonition to enjoy God while we can and enjoy the experiences of God that our senses allow us while we can.  I think of the men in one of the parables, when invited to a banquet, begged to be excused – “I have married me a wife, I have bought me a cow, I have fields and commitments that cost me a petty sum.  Please hold me excused I cannot come to the banquet now.”  I suspect Solomon would not agree.  May we enjoy expressions of our faith as we are able before age diminishes our ability.

         So how do you enjoy your faith?  Let us think of how our sense of God is heightened by our five senses.  Take a moment to list something that comes to mind that encourages your faith because of vision……, hearing….., smell……, taste……, and touch……..    Thank you Lord for our ability to appreciate your creation and help us be alert to your presence.  May we accept the limitations of age and know you are there with us as we walk towards you.

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